WATTS, St Albans, 1865-1880s

August, 2003



St Albans

Jean Watts (jean.watts1 @t btopenworld.com) of Ruabon, North Wales is researching the Watts family, Thomas Watts born 1828, married Marianna Webster Earp, 1866, Thomas was a Baptist minister and moved to St Albans 1865. Thomas and Marianna had six sons all born in St Albans, the address given on all birth certificates was Verulam Road. On 1881 census Marrianna and the boys were living at Hatfield Road school, no sign of Thomas. I don't meet up again with Thomas until the late 1890s when they were living in Bedford. I would like to know if Hatfield Road school was a private residence, and if it still exists.

I can throw some light on when the Rev. Thomas Watts left St Albans. He was the minister of the Upper Dagnal Street Baptist Church, and was still there in the 1882 Kelly's Directory (the data for which was probably collected in 1881.) The 1886 edition of the Directory contains the following passage:

Dagnal Street Baptist Chapel. The church worshiping here was founded about 1600 at the village of Kensworth, and was removed to St Albans about 1700. The new chapel built on the site of the former one removed in 1884, is a red brick and stone building of Early English style from designs by Mr Morton M Glover. architect, and consists of nave with apse, organ chamber and behind the apse an octagonal baptistery; the windows are stained; there are sittings for 600 people; under the chapel is a large and lofty schoolroom and there are 16 class rooms, a vestry and a detached chapel-keeper's house.

The section on Places of Worship lists it as being erected in 1885 and the position of minister was vacant - so clearly he had moved on by this date.


The Rev. J. Campbell also spoke.  See John Campbell, The Tabernacle, Redbourn, 1870-1884 and cutting.

Fortunately I can be far more precise - as I have a mention of him in a news article which happens to be on the same page as an article I had photocopied for a different purpose. The Herts Advertiser of 4th March 1882 has an account of the building of a new Baptist tabernacle in Victoria Street, St Albans. There was a ceremony to celebrate the laying of the top stones of the walls and prayers were offered by Rev. Thomas Watts of Bedford. He later spoke and the report says:

The Rev. T. Watts commenced his address by saying he felt as if he had come home again. Although he was a resident of Bedford, he still had a vote in St Albans, which he would certainly use if an election took place very soon. He had been pastor of some of those present for a considerable number of years, and he could not help saying there was no body of Christians in St Albans or in the neighbourhood who were more worthy of general help than those who had undertaken the erection of this tabernacle. (cheers) ...

Clearly he had moved to Bedford before this date, and possibly still owned some property in St Albans (the house in Hatfield Road??) which would entitle him to vote. The owners of the Herts Advertiser were Baptists who worshipped at the Dagnal Street Chapel - so I am sure the paper will have covered his departure in some detail. (The problem is, of course, that the paper is not indexed, but if the departure date could be tied down there would undoubtedly be a long account.)


Now for the Hatfield Road School. The school was a board school - which means that it was a locally run school controlled by a board of local governors. It was there to ensure that all (poor) children had a basic education and should not be confused with boarding schools which were fee paying schools for the well to do. In fact many children of well-to-do families, including Thomas Watts', were educated by resident governesses.

However if you look at the 1881 census transcript you will see that several families apparently lived at Hatfield Road School. I suspect that if you look at the microfilm of the census you would find that one address has "Hatfield Road School" against it - and the rest had "ditto" - which was intended to be for the "Hatfield Road" only!  This is one of the reasons why you should not take the online index on familysearch as gospel and check the original text.

The house was obviously close to the Peacock public house - which still exists. I suspect that it has gone. It may well have been a new house - as there was much building of better class houses in the area, in part because of the expansion caused by the opening of a railway line to London a decade or so earlier.

Jean Watts (jean.watts1 @t btopenworld.com) responded Today I looked at my screen in total amazement, how on earth do thank you for all the information you gave me. The only way I know is to give you more on the Watts family, it may help you if anybody else asks you for help about this family:

Thomas Watts was born 1828 in the Peak Forest Derbyshire. father Thomas Watts, mother Hannah Taylor.  Marianna Webster Earp was born 1840 in Melbourne, Derbyshire, father John Earp mother Mary Tomlinson.  Thomas and Marianna were married in Melbourne Derby 1866, that was one year after Thomas started his ministry at St Albans. They had six sons:

 Marianna must really loved St Albans because after the death of Thomas, she moved to Hoylake, and had a house built for herself. She named this house Verulam.

Thank you for this valuable information - others reading this page might like to know that all six sons were listed, with their mother, in the 1881 census.

January, 2004

Robert Bull (rjbull @t tiscali.co.uk) has provided the following information about Thomas Watts:

Thomas Watts was appointed minister of Dagnall St Baptist Church in October 1865. The previous minister, Rev William Upton had died in March 1865, after holding the post for some 44 years. The Church membership at this time was about 200.

    Thomas Watts resigned from the position of minister in 1880. The reasons for his resignation are unclear. His letter of resignation refers to "Recent circumstances with which you are fully acquainted and to which I need not further refer...". It is believed there was disagreement within the church over a matter of doctrine. A number of church members left the church and set up their own meeting, initially at the Corn Exchange. Watts also states in his letter "By applying the teachings of Christ to modern temptations and sins, I have sometimes given offence."

     The church membership voted by a small majority not to accept Watts' resignation, but he felt his position to be untenable and left anyway.

     The members who had left the church subsequently built their own chapel, the Tabernacle, in Victoria Street. The building still stands, though it is now a Latin-American dance school. The foundation stone was laid by Thomas Watts in 1881 and, if memory serves, can still be seen behind the bushes.

    Watts position at Dagnall St was taken by Rev William Garrett Lewis in January 1881. However, Lewis died in 1885, before the present building was finished. The stained glass window at the rear of the church is dedicated to Lewis. There are photographs of all ministers since William Upton in the minister's vestry at Dagnall Street (i.e. not on public display).

     All the above is taken from the history of Dagnall Street Baptist Church "With Cheerful Zeal" by Derek Turner, 1999 (published privately by the Church and no longer available). The church has its own website, www.dsbc.org.uk

July, 2004

Priscilla Tiplady (tiplady @t alphalink.com.au) of Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia has sent some information relating to Marianna Webster Earp and Arrabelle Mary Ingle which she had hoped to send to Jean Watts, whose email address appears to be no longer receiving mail. While it adds little to the Hertfordshire story I reproduce it below, in case Jean sees it.

Of interest to me (and I hope to you) is that our family trees are closely linked at two consecutive generations, I believe.
1.     Marianne Webster Earp  would seem to be the younger sister of Selina J. Earp born 1839 Melbourne, Derbyshire, daughter of John Earp.  Selina married Robert Nichols Ingle (my great great grandfather) on 13th June 1861.  I have found it hard to access marriage and death details of either of them, but they certainly moved around a bit, training as a doctor.  He was listed on the medical register in Jan 1859 and did clinical and various academic qualifications at London, St Andrews and Cambridge where he ended up in general practice.  They are listed in the 1901 census in Bedfordshire - Bedford St Cuthbert - District 3 - living at 1 Bushmead Avenue together with "Mary", christened Arabella Mary Ingle b. 11 June 1876.
I note the density of Baptist ministers among the Watts family, so I note for interest that Robert Nichols Ingle was the son of a Wesleyan Minister, Timothy Clarkson Ingle.
2.      Arabella  is my great great aunt, the youngest child and only daughter in a family of three.  The eldest, Arnold Clarkson Ingle continued the family medical practice in Cambridge.  He retired early to devote himself to voluntary work with the Baptist Missionary Society, visiting China and Japan in 1919 for eight months as President of the Medical Missionary Auxiliary.
Arnold  married Gertrude Mansfield  dau. of  Stephen Mansfield  of Cambridge4 Oct 1887 and they had three children: Gertrude Joyce b. 7 March 1889 - appox 1969 (lived most of her life in Tundbridge Wells, Kent); Helen Grace b 1 Sept 1890 married Jack Tullough and lived in Scotland, two children Brian and Joyce; and Laurence Mansfield Ingle b. Cambridge 27 Jan 1892 - 1965 (my grandfather) a brilliant young surgeon who graduated from King's College and London Hospital, served in the Great War as a Captain with the RAMC in Somme, Egypt, Salonica and east Africa.  In 1920 he left for China as a medical missionary (sponsored by the Baptist Missionary Society) at Cheeloo (Qilu) University in Shantung Province, lecturing in Anatomy in Mandarin and translating Gray's Anatomy and Rose and Carless Surgery into Mandarin.  He married Agnes Sinclair Ferguson of Cupar, Fife in Pekin Legation Chapel in 1920 (they met in Cambridge just before he left) and they had two children Alison Mary Ingle  b. Tsinan 1922 - (presently living in Cambridge) and Ronald Ferguson Ingle b. Tsingtao, 1927 - (presently living in Pretoria).  He too was a doctor, trained at Kings and ? hospital for leaving as a USPG sponsored medical missionary in 1959 to run All Saints Hospital in Umtata in Transkei, South Africa with Dr Pauline Marshall, who ended up his wife (m. 1960, d. 1997 ish)
Ronald and Pauline had no children.  Alison married Philip James Harris, b. 30 May 1923 d 13 Oct 1988, of Cheltenham, whom she met when he was an undergraduate at St Catherine's College, Cambridge.  They spent much of their early years together in Nigeria.  They had four daughters - Gillian Alison Elizabeth 1948 -2004, Rosemary Margaret 1949 - , myself Priscilla Mary 1950 - and Charmian Angela 1953
John Addison Ingle  b. 12 Sept 1864 the middle child married Florence Helena, daughter of John Hodges of Bale, Taunton and they had three children, Rotha Mary b25 July 1899, Handley Cecil b. 20 Nov 1901, and Dora Kathleen b. 17 Dec 1903.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

November 2010   Link to Campbell page